The History of Breakfast
Breakfast didn’t really exist during Roman times, in fact ‘breakfast’ was frowned upon as they generally only ate one meal a day, and to eat more was seen as a sign of gluttony. This way of thinking shaped the way we ate for many years.
During the Middle Ages monastic lifestyle shaped the way people ate, nobody could eat before morning mass.
The term breakfast entered English language around this time, literally meaning ‘break the night’s fast’
It wasn’t until the 17th century that breakfast started be eaten by all classes, it started to appear in the wealthy after the restoration of Charles II, with dishes like tea, coffee and scrambled eggs, by 1740 breakfast rooms in home of wealthy.
During the19th Century, breakfast reached new levels of decadence in aristocratic circles during hunting parties with breakfasts of up to 24 dishes.
The industrial revolution and its standardised working hours is where it all started as we know it today, with labourers needing a meal to sustain them during the days work.
What are you eating
Traditionally breakfast would have consisted of meat, fish, eggs or fruit as you’d expect, however, during the 19th century cereals began to appear, firstly in the form of cooked oatmeal (porridge) and then in 1863 the first cereal in the form of Granula but these nuggets didn’t really become popularly because they needed to be soaked overnight and so were not convenient. It was in the late 19th century that cereal as we know it appeared when Dr John Harvey Kellogg boiled some wheat, rolled it into thin films, and baked the resulting flakes in the oven, in 1891 he acquired the patent and in 1895 Kellogg’s cornflakes was born. From these beginnings the breakfast cereal industry now has gross profit margins of 40-45%, 90% penetration in some markets, and steady and continued growth throughout its history. The point here is cereal has only been around for the last 100 or so years yet folk talk about it like we can’t start the day without it.
To eat or not, that is the question
Breakfast hasn’t always been consumed and the obesity epidemic wasn’t around in the days before we all ate breakfast so to say its the most important meal of the day may not be accurate. That said I don’t believe we can take the usual evolutionary template methodology as we no longer live that hunter gatherer lifestyle and maybe we do require sustainable to see us through the working day. As with anything it’s going to be a case of experimenting and seeing what works for you, that could be a good high carb cereal, low carb, meat and nuts, coffee or just plain old water. The choices are endless, don’t think you have to have ‘breakfast’ foods either, there is nothing wrong with having steak for breakfast, or last nights left overs.
I intend this to be the first part of many on the subject and will discuss breakfast options in the next part.
Until then, stay strong